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Bible Commentaries

Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the Bible
Acts 12

 

 

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Introduction

Herod Caused Trouble For The Church
- Acts Twelve -

Acts chapter twelve tells of the persecution that Herod led against the church. He made a great effort to hinder the progress of the church and to destroy the faith of believers. This Herod was King Agrippa I. He was the grandson of Herod the Great that slew the infants at the birth of Jesus. (Matthew 2:1-16)

King Herod caused terrible suffering and misery for some members of the church. He even ordered his soldiers to kill James with a sword. James was the brother of John. Herod also had Peter arrested and put him in prison. He intended to bring him before the people to condemn him but God intervened to save Peter. An angel of the Lord delivered Peter from prison.

After being delivered from prison Peter went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark. The brethren were gathered there praying. They were astonished that Peter had been released from prison. He explained to them how the angel of the Lord had led him out of the prison. Peter sent word to James and the other brethren of his miraculous release from prison. When Peter was not found in the prison the guards were extremely worried and rightly so. Herod questioned them and then had them put to death.

After this, Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while. While Herod was at Caesarea, the people of Tyre and Sidon came to him to try to make peace. "Upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them." The people said that Herod spoke more like a god than a man. God humbled him and struck him down because he took the honor that belonged to God. Herod was eaten by worms and died.

God"s message kept spreading as more and more people became Christians. The Bible also says, "Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark." (Acts 12:25)


Verses 1-5

James died for the cause of Christ - Acts 12:1-5 : One man can do either much harm or much good toward the cause of Christ. King Herod Agrippa I harassed some in the church and caused terrible suffering for them. He violently oppressed the church. Among those that suffered was James the brother of John. Herod ordered his soldiers to kill this godly man with a sword. Herod must have thought that he could destroy the church by killing it leaders.

James was the brother of John. James and John were sons of Zebedee. (Matthew 4:21) On one occasion the sons of Zebedee and their mother requested permission for these men to sit on Jesus" right and left hand in the kingdom. Jesus told them, "You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father." (Matthew 20:23) Just as predicted by the Lord James drank of that cup of suffering.

When Herod saw that the death of James pleased the Jewish people, he had Peter arrested. He put Peter in jail and ordered four squads of soldiers to guard him. It was his intention to bring Peter before the people after Passover (mistranslated Easter in the KJV - Acts 12:4). While Peter was being kept in prison constant prayer was being offered by the church for him.


Verses 6-12

Peter could not be kept in prison - Acts 12:6-12 : The night before Peter was to be put on trial, he was asleep and bound by two chains. Two soldiers were guarding him and other soldiers were guarding the prison entrance. That night some amazing things happened: (1) an angel from the Lord appeared in the prison, (2) there was a great light that flashed, (3) the angel smote Peter on the side to awaken him, (4) the angel told Peter to get up quickly, and (5) the chains fell off his hands.

The angel told Peter to get dressed and to follow him. He specifically told Peter to put on his sandals. Peter thought that he was having a dream or a vision. They went past the soldiers and when they came to the Iron Gate to the city, it opened by itself. As they were going along the street the angel departed from him. Peter knew that the Lord had sent His angel to rescue him. Peter went to the house of Mary the mother of John Mark. Christians had come together there and were praying.


Verses 13-19

Peter"s release surprised the brethren - Acts 12:13-19 : When Peter first reached the gate he was left standing at the door by Rhoda. She was too amazed to open the gate. She ran into the house and said that Peter was standing there. The brethren did not believe that it could be Peter. Peter kept on knocking, until finally they opened the gate. When they saw that it was Peter they were shocked. Peter told them how the Lord had led him out of prison. He asked them to "Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place."

Peter"s release from prison caused no small stir among the people. The soldiers that had been on guard were terribly worried and wondered what had happened to Peter. They searched but could not find him. Herod questioned the guards and then had them put to death. After this, Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while.


Verses 20-25

Herod died a terrible death - Acts 12:20-25 : Herod was highly displeased with people of Tyre and Sidon. But their country got its food from the region that he ruled. Blastus, the king"s chamberlain had become friends with the people of Tyre and Sidon. "They convinced Blastus that they wanted to make peace between their cities and Herod."

A day was set for these people to meet with Herod. On that day he appeared in royal apparel on his throne. He made a great speech before the people. They said, "You speak more like a god than a man." An angel of the Lord struck Herod down because he took the honor that belonged to God. Later, he was eaten by worms and died.

Even during this difficult time God"s message kept spreading. The Bible says, "But the word of God grew and multiplied." (Acts 12:24) After Barnabas and Saul had completed the work they were sent to do, they went back to Jerusalem with John Mark.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Acts 12:4". "Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/box/acts-12.html. 2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 5th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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